Skink, a family of small, ground-dwelling lizards. Skinks are usually less than one foot (30 cm) in length, and have conical or blunt-shaped heads, cylindrical bodies, and tapering tails. There are about 1,280 species, found on all continents except Antarctica. Skinks are most numerous in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the islands of the Western Pacific.
Many skinks have two pairs of well-developed limbs; some have only small hind limbs; and others are limbless. Skinks are usually some shade of olive or brown and are often marked with stripes, crossbars, or spots. The smooth, flat overlapping scales covering their bodies give skinks a glossy or shiny appearance.
The skink's tail often serves as a protective device. When seized it easily breaks off and the skink escapes. A new tail grows shortly afterwards. Most skinks feed on small invertebratesmainly insects. Some are vegetarians. Some skinks lay eggs; others bear live young.
There are 15 species in the United States. Among them are the sand skink, which is tan or white with dark stripes; the five-lined skink, black with light stripes; and the ground skink, brown with black stripes.
Skinks make up the family Scincidae. The sand skink is Neoseps reynoldsi; the five-lined skink, Eumeces obsoletus; the ground skink, Scinella lateralis.